Should You Start Najee Harris or Jaylen Warren in Fantasy Football Week 8?

Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are a formidable RB tandem for the Steelers -- which of the two is the better start in Week 8?

We’re diving into the outlooks for Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren in fantasy football for Week 8. Which Pittsburgh Steelers RB is the better player to start this week, and can you rely on either? Let’s dive in.

Najee Harris’ Fantasy Outlook This Week

Week 7 saw Najee Harris and the Steelers return from their bye week. All Harris did in his return was to post his first top-12 RB finish of 2023. Some of that likely ties to heavy byes, and Week 7 saw Harris find paydirt for the first time. So, could this be a trend that’ll continue, or should it just be seen as a blip?

Interestingly, 2022 might provide a little hint that it’s a trend. In 2022, Week 1-8 Harris sat at RB24 leading up to the bye with zero top-12 finishes and just a single rushing TD. Weeks 10-18? Harris was RB5 down the stretch and scored six rushing TDs for Pittsburgh. So it could be that as others wear down, Harris gets stronger and performs his best.

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This week, the Steelers take on the Jaguars, who’ve been a middling defense vs RBs over the last month, allowing the 14th-most points to fantasy RBs. However, the splits of how they give up those points don’t bode well for Harris.

The Jaguars have allowed the 10th-fewest yards to RBs over the last month on rushing attempts. They’ve also allowed just a single rushing TD in that span. Harris has yet to see more than three targets in a game, so he’s less likely to help as much in that aspect. So, the Steelers would need to play from ahead and buck the trend to help Harris.

Jaylen Warren’s Fantasy Outlook This Week

Jaylen Warren has been a decent Flex option since Week 2 for managers. He’s not seeing the most consistent opportunities and hasn’t hit 50% of snaps in any game in 2023, but he’s been decent. Warren has been between RB32 and RB21 over that span.

Off the bye, Warren saw a slight downtick in opportunities, though, even while playing a similar snap share. After seeing eight to nine carries in the last three games before the bye, he dropped to six in Week 7. He also saw just two targets, his fewest in 2023.

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One note to bring up is that Diontae Johnson returned but has been fighting another hamstring injury in practice. With Pat Freiermuth on IR already, the Steelers’ passing game is limited in options, so Warren might get an uptick again in passing looks.

The Jaguars have given it up through the air to RBs the last month. Over that span, they’ve allowed the most targets (40), receptions (33), and second-most yards (229). Warren has been the Steelers’ third-down back (83% snaps) but not the two-minute back (29% snaps). The trailing game-script figures to see more Warren in this game.

Which of the Steelers RBs Should You Start?

The Pro Football Network Start/Sit Optimizer says Harris is the player to start. His projected 7.8 points include 35.3 rushing yards, 1.8 receptions, 10.4 yards, and 0.3 TDs. That doesn’t seem like a big stat line, but it outperforms the consensus projection for Warren (7.1 points).

However, when you isolate my rankings, I see Warren outperforming Harris due to some of what I outlined above. The Steelers’ offense could keep up with the Rams off the bye, but the Jaguars should play from ahead. The areas the Jaguars struggle vs RBs is where Warren takes advantage of.

I can see either being a good play this week. I think Warren is an RB2/Flex type, while Harris is just a Flex option, but TDs are difficult to predict. Ultimately, Warren should score well just from his receiving work, while Harris needs the end zone to be a worthy play. Given that choice, I’ll take Warren and recommend you do, too.

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